One who knows does not speak;
One who speaks does not know.
Block the openings;
Shut the doors.
Blunt the sharpness;
Untangle the knots;
Soften the glare;
Dear Vincent, Adrian,Thanks a lot for the intros!The best would be to talk directly with the PLSS vegetal research group. This year led by Zoe Yuristy. Last year's Spinoza - Bateson - Guattari reading group was led by Laura Boyd-Clowes. Now we are doing very very mundane beginning -- just to plant seedlings in fresh dirt, then get humidity sensors to semi-automate the watering system. Our philosophy seminar is suspended, although that is the most promising in terms of ground-breaking research, we simply are too busy to push that forward for now. Maybe with your intervention, we can advance the philosophical investigation in a rigorous way!Natasha Myers @ York University (Toronto) brings together her training as a botanist, and dance, as well as her wok in science & technology studies. There are fascinating works with plant chemical signals, chemical memory, plant movement + human movement, etc.. She should be part of the more research oriented conversation.Let me suggest that Adrian make the translations :) I'll do that too after my deadlines ease up a bit Dec 2.Xin Wei
On Oct 16, 2011, at 4:28 PM, Julian Vincent wrote:Well, hi y'all! Great introduction from Adrian!
Here's a one-pager which summarises the second subject Adrian mentions: <The selective advantage.doc>. If the idea has a fault, it's that the model is so strong that it explains too much! I'm collecting press cuttings, quotations, etc, which is the only way I know to accumulate information in this sort of area. My ideal would be to interview some practising artists, but I fancy I need a bit more credibility before I can persuade someone to give me the cash to travel. Ideally I would interview a couple of dozen of the current top artists (all categories) in the world - maybe more. If any of you know someone of sufficient standing and compliance who would agree to do it for free, I'd love to run them through the system! And your comments, too. At present I'm putting the data into an ontology which is my current way of filing and assembling data. You can have a copy if you are interested.
The first subject which Adrian mentions requires a bit more background since it's not published and needs some understanding of botany and engineering. The bending stiffness of a rod depends on the diameter of the rod (or, more generally, the shape and size of its cross section) and the material it's made of. A small-section rod made of stiff material will bend to the same amount as a large-section rod made of less stiff material. We were working on tobacco plants which had one of the three pathways producing lignin (= 'wood') downgraded. In the greenhouse (a wind-free environment) they were trained up pieces of string, and looked exactly the same as the controls which had full lignification. But the ones with reduced lignin were more floppy (lower bending stiffness). However, if a plant is stimulated mechanically it tens to stiffen up (thigmomorphogenesis) by changing its dimensions. We tried this with both normal and downgraded plants and found that they grew differently such that the stem of the more floppy one grew bigger in diameter than the control plant, resulting on both plants having the same bending stiffness. In other words, they both ended up with the same mechanical properties. I adduced this to mean that the plant had a 'concept' of how stiff it should be, correcting for and short-comings in the material it's made of,and therefore has a self-image, or is conscious! I have to admit that this interpretation of a well-known phenomenon was created in order to wrong-foot those who believe that only man is capable of consciousness and self-knowledge, but it also means that, perhaps, one should think a bit more clearly about what consciousness means and how to define it!
The basic data are published and is kosher, but the above argument is not published.
On 16 Oct 2011, at 05:06, Adrian Freed wrote:
I would like to introduce you all to Julien Vincent who I met at the the Fiber Society Conference last week.
Julien's work and his interesting peridisciplinary thinking intersects themes of the PLSS project and the TML in general.
Our conversations ventured far and wide but a couple of relevance are:
1) An ingenious interpretation of a specific plant biomechanics experimental as evidence of plant self identity. I heard about this post-Guiness so perhaps
Julian can refer us to a paper for the details. As you all know I am just an interest tourist when it comes to biology but I keep getting a lot of Julian's field. For example
I used the locomotion of wild wheat awns in a recent paper as an example of entrainment. I suspect there is much in the mechanical aspects of plants to stimulate
discussion of agency at the boundaries of the living/and non living.
2) The following idea of his:
"The selective advantage of art. Art (all varieties) is a safe method of allowing people to rehearse alternative futures. The engagement is to guess what will happen next, which relies on pattern recognition (well known) but demands projection of the pattern into the future (commonly not appreciated). The person who 'knows' what will happen next is the most likely to survive. Therefore art, apparently totally useless in terms of evolutionary advantage and so strangely persistent, appears to have a central role in our survival mechanisms."
As you can imagine this second point has received insensitive resistance from the usual places. Rather than add weight to the obvious critiques I would like us to engage in conversation with Julian
to deepen, broaden and sharpen this insight of his.
I referred Julian to Lucy Suchman's work on situated action.
Simondon is also relevant because he uses the language of evolution in considering the evolution of the technical object.
Heavy-hitting scientists who have considered evolution and social patterning include Varela,
and for music we have Attali's argument (in Noise) that society tests new technologies first in music and sound because
these modailities have fewer material constraints. Andrew Pickering has started to look at art but his early work on this was not met very sympathetically in the DART503 seminar last year.
I am sure some of you biologist/philosophers and artist/biologists have some more useful suggestions for Julian.
Please share them.
Julian knows the RepRap inventor Adrian Bowyer so it might be interesting to share your experience on how the TML plants entrained you to build them a RepRap.